The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez stating that he used his position to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts. Plainly, Menendez used his position of power to promote the interests of a donor friend in exchange for bribes.
Menendez has adamantly defended the business interests of wealthy Florida surgeon Salomon Melgen. Melgen has donated hundreds of thousands to Menendez and committees supporting him.
Melgen, through his company ICSSI, establishes contracts in ports in the Dominican Republic to transport various medical equipment. Menendez advocated for ICSSI stating that the Dominican Republic did not honor contracts with the company. He stated, “If those countries can get away with that, they will…and that puts American companies at a tremendous disadvantage.” In reality, Menendez was using his position of power to protect the wealth of his friend and donor.
Additionally, Melgen was accused of overbilling Medicare, a federal program that provides health insurance to those over 65 years old, and he was among the top recipients of Medicare reimbursements during a time when he was also a major donor for the Democrats.
Bob Menendez is the highest-ranking Latino Democrat in Congress and has held positions such as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Exploiting his own background, Menendez claims to advocate for the working class Latinos in New Jersey, namely those from Hudson County, where Menendez was born and raised.
Advocating for a policy that would give more money to doctors that accepted Medicare, Menendez was not guided by feelings of justice but rather he wanted to put more money in the pockets of his friend who was donating large of amounts of money to his work.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced Sen. Bob Menendez to be the most corrupt politicians of the year, stating, “It’s good to be friends with Sen. Menendez: Give him gifts and campaign money, and he’ll use his position to take care of your business interests.”
None of Menendez’s actions demonstrate a sense of solidarity with his roots or social background. Joining the Democrats has meant that Menendez has taken a job proving his loyalty to capitalism and protecting the business interests of the rich. He is part of an incestuous web where money binds politicians and corporate owners. Politicians are not meant to look out for the interests of the working people but rather seek to increase the wealth of their class, especially their donors.
As if his domestic work wasn’t repulsive enough, Bob Menendez has demonstrated hostility towards Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, all prime targets of U.S. imperialism. Menendez’s rhetoric on promoting democracy in these countries contradicts his undemocratic behavior and willingness to accept bribes.
Capitalizing on his Cuban heritage, Menendez has made his opposition to Cuba and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro a centerpiece of his political life. He questioned Obama’s move to open diplomatic relations with Cuba, calling it a “bad deal” that “compromised bedrock principles for virtually no concessions.” In February, Menendez co-sponsored a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran.
This past December, Menendez drafted the bipartisan Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act that authorizes sanctions to freeze assets and ban visas of those supposedly violating human rights in Venezuela. It is important to note the sanctions will not target those that facilitated the right-wing anti-government attacks that killed 43 people last year.
On March 17, Menendez spoke at a subcommittee hearing titled “Deepening Political and Economic Crisis in Venezuela: Implications for U.S. Interests and the Western Hemisphere.” Just a week after Obama’s declaration that Venezuela is a national security threat to the United States, Menendez applauded the targeted sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials and “in my view, we could have gone further…” He then continued, “I hope we have a chance to discuss the administration’s diplomatic strategy for ensuring that the elections Venezuela is scheduled to hold later this year will take place under free, fair, and transparent conditions.” This suggests he intends to continue intervening and attacking the sovereignty of Venezuela.
As someone who advocates for promoting democracy, Menendez’s actions contradict his rhetoric. He constantly drafts and pushes bills that attacking those who challenge U.S. imperialism. In fact, Menendez is the true violator of human rights and democracy as a supporter of sanctions. Sanctions are an act of war against the people living in the targeted country.
It is our role to expose contradictions and expose the politicians who claim to be representing working class people. When Menendez drafts bills that enact sanctions, speaks on behalf of wealthy doctors to receive more money from Medicare, or condemns countries for not honoring his friend’s contracts but readily accepts bribes, he is not protecting the interests of the working people in New Jersey. Building an anti-imperialist movement in the heart of imperialism and standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers fighting for revolution abroad is the best way we can promote democracy for the working class.